DENVER - New skis will be 15 to 20 percent lighter starting next season, and they will include a lot of backcountry-influenced features without compromising downhill performance, according to revelations made last weekend at the SnowSports Industries America Snow Show in Denver.
The Snow Show attracts hundreds of vendors, including skiwear maker Sport Obermeyer, of Aspen, and thousands of representatives of retail outlets. The show is the largest of its kind in the country.
SnowSports Industries America reported in a statement that ski manufacturers are responding to demands from consumers for more versatility out of their boots, bindings and gear.
"We're seeing a fusion of many ski disciplines," said Kurt Hoefler, vice president of sales at Rossignol. "Freeriding blending into frontside skiing blending into alpine touring and ski mountaineering."
Rocker technology, or reverse camber, will be judiciously applied to carving skis for next season to make them more versatile. More girth underfoot, from 95 to 115 millimeters, also is becoming the norm, according to observations made by SnowSports Industries America.
Snowboarding technology also is being influenced by the growing popularity of the backcountry. Boots have a stiffer flex as well as hiking or crampon-compatible soles and liners with outsoles to wear around a backcountry hut or camp.
The collections of snowboards are more streamlined in response to last season's surplus in inventory. Poor snow conditions in most parts of the country translated into slow sales in everything from skis and snowboards to clothing by retailers.
Lean snow years have propelled innovation in the nordic industry, according to SnowSports Industries America.
"The lines between alpine touring and cross-country skiing are blurring," the statement said. "More companies are offering high-performance skate boots, and there are increased options in metal-edge touring skis for recreational skiers."
Helmet manufacturers are using impact-absorption materials taken from body armor to provide better protection. Companies also are working on better goggle-to-helmet integration, according to SnowSports Industries America.
Outerwear in ski and snowboard clothing will feature "asymmetrical patterns, diverse textures and bursts of color," the organization said. "The top hue for next season is muted, earthy and well-suited for an outdoorsman: ochre. It's a mustard-mellow yellow color that is well-paired with other tones and can make a statement on its own."
The leading fashion is what SnowSports Industries America referred to as "urban woodsman." It's a look "adopted by hipster males who like outdoor authenticity and are seeking the latest athletic-influenced fashion," according to the organization.
A popular seminar at the show was "Fall/Winter '14 Color and Megatrends," hosted by forecasters with Stylesight, a company that examines what will be hot with consumers.
Klaus Obermeyer, founder of Sport Obermeyer, was given the Industry Achievement Award at this year's show.